just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
February, 2011

In a World of Two, You Can Never Have Too Much One

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Whether it’s music, meditation, yoga, boardsports, circle communication process, children, in relationships, being in nature or sacred meals, I feel deepened through the cultivation of One.  These are dedicated practices that require focus, attention and vow to still the mind of Two.  Yesterday, during a yoga class, my teacher said, “You can never do too much yoga.”  While she was referring to the specific practice she was teaching, yoga means “to yoke”, “to join as One”.  Within this spirit, we can never cultivate One too much, especially in a culture that feverishly promotes Two through messages of greed, fear and the ignoring of One (ignorance).  My passion to cultivate the experience of One has been deeply stimulated by Brother David Steindl-Rast.  He describes this experience of the mystery in his book, A Listening Heart:

“This visible and this invisible meet at the crossroads  which we call our heart.  When we say “heart”, we mean that center of our personal being where we are one with ourselves; yet, not with ourselves only.  In our heart of hearts we are one also with all others– and with the Ultimate, with God.  St. Augustine affirms from his own mystical awareness a truth of which every human being has an inkling: “In my heart of hearts God is closer to me than I am to myself.” p. 23

“In one of his Poems for the Hours of Prayer Rilke describes the beginning of our life’s journey in a kind of miniature creation myth.  This myth is so relevant to our task of making sense of the senses that I will paraphrase it here:  God, in creating humans, speaks to each one of us personally, but only before we are completely fashioned; after that, God goes with us out into the darkness and is silent. The Creator’s words which we dimly hear, before we are led out into the night, are these: ‘Urged on by your senses, go forth to the very brink of your longing.  Clothe me, the Invisible, in what is visible!” (But how can this be done?)  ‘Grow like a fire behind all things so that their expanding shadows keep covering all of me.  Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.  Keep going, no matter what.  No sensation is too far out.  Let nothing separate you from me.’  (And then, the Creator’s parting word:) ‘The Land which they call life is near.  You will recognize it by its serious demands.  Give me you hand!”  p. 24

Brother David captures the power and beauty found in deeply listening to the pull we ‘dimly hear’, the motivation to cultivate One in a world that screams Two.  The Rilke story commands us to stay from the experience of Two, always choosing to practice One, through beauty and terror.  Whether on a beautiful walk through the woods, in the mountains, or by the sea; whether facing a predatory enemy, serious illness or deep wound, the choice is always to deepen to the felt hand of One, ‘at the crossroads which we call our heart’.  In a world of Two, our journey is to vow our practice to One, and you can never do/be too much One.

‘So take my hand in you hand.  Say, “It’s great to be alive”. Lyric from Elton John’s movie Friends.

In Oneness, you are never alone.

Another Instance Where Media Fails to Listen and Fuels Violence

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
When our minds leave Oneness, obstacles appear.

When our minds leave Oneness, obstacles appear.

Violence ripped us apart a few weeks ago when a lone gunmen in Tucson went on a shooting rampage that brought the country to pause.  The vibration of our nation raised as we met the suffering of those injured and those left with the pain of losing a loved one’s physical presence.  As a community, Tucson stepped beyond the response of revenge.  News reporters captured the victims’ compassion for the parents of the shooter and stayed from fueling further division as they stayed on to report the healing of a community.  Even today, I would suspect most of us put our attention and prayers to the future healing of such deep wounds over our anger at the shooter’s senseless act.  Ancient spiritual teachings and collective wisdom would have us deeply look into the mind of the shooter in compassion.  Through a deep understanding and empathy with the person, as us, we’ll move closer to healing and reducing the possibility of future senseless acts.

Today there’s a nation facing the very real potential of anarchy.  Egypt has drawn millions to the street who felt oppressed, not listened to.  When people feel there’s no hope, when they feel it’s over, violence is inevitable.  This is quite different than pushing different political agendas.  It’s a true ‘up’ rising, as people once again discover their worth, taking their opportunity to participate.  Unfortunately, the conflict in Egypt has been framed as ‘anti-Mubarak’ and ‘pro-Mubarak’.  The mind of duality seems to limit it’s capacity to this didactic approach.  The mind of One looks deeper into the situation.  That’s exactly what the faculty and administration of Valparaiso University did in the spring of 1970 when a conflicted campus community shut down the university after Nixon invaded Cambodia.

It was a turbulent time with the nation deeply divided on the merits of our military involvement in Vietnam.  The country was as polarized as I had ever seen.  About ten per cent of the student population felt the situation was hopeless and committed to extreme measures to be heard.  Classes were disrupted by protesters and hunger strikes were begun.  An administration building was burned, suspected from an outside agitator.  Emotions were hot.  Yet, rather than introducing violence to the situation, the Valparaiso staff invited a dialog.  Rather than dichotomizing students into factions of ‘pro-war’ and ‘anti-war’, they listened and discovered the common ground.  Neither side wanted violence.  At the end of the conversation it was clear that some students just wanted a return to the stability of their studies.  Some students could not continue their regular studies in light of their impassioned desire to participate in what they thought democracy called for.  In a brilliant move, they negotiated to allow the protesters to pursue their aim responsibly in an independent study project, receiving pass/fail grades in their courses up to the meeting date.  The contingent was to allow non-protesting students to continue their studies uninterrupted.  Common sense prevailed and the university was made stronger through such an act of integrity.

So how does this apply to Egypt’s current situation?  Today the media is claiming a showdown between ‘pro-Mubarak’ and ‘anti-Mubarak’ factions.  In fact, it’s the wrong frame.  It’s a showdown between those who want a return of stability against those who had no stability and hope before the protests.  It’s a showdown between those who want the protesters to go home vs. the protesters who essentially don’t have a home.  A dualistic mind can only think in terms of winners and losers and seems to thrive on the fight.  A mind of One would create a deeper dialogue aimed at common sense.  At the end of the day, people are concerned about their quality of life.  They want an opportunity to participate.  Mubarak stands for many as a leader who failed to nurture this.  Rather than inflaming the situation with ‘win/loss’ mentality, those without hope need some way to know they’re engaged, given the opportunity to participate in the changes they see as necessary.  The diplomatic response would be to enlist representatives from both parties in a forum where they could deeply listen to each others’ situation.  Most protesters are not interesting in destroying the stability of their neighbor, even if they have no stability.  Most citizens of stability are not interested in starving the less fortunate so they can have more.  The thirst for greed and the fear fed for each other can be diminished when they break the illusion of ‘two’.  We are our brother and sister and our aim is to support one another as ourselves.  Just as the Valparaiso staff and students did in 1971, the Mubarak administration could engage a dialogue with protesters about the changes they see as necessary.  The citizens wanting a return to stability could engage in the dialogue, with both parties seeking common ground.  Violence would be subverted, protestors would feel they’ve been heard and tended to.  Those seeking return to stability could once again open their doors.  True democracy would show bright, unlike the extreme polarization that runs rampant today.

Just as Tucson stayed from ‘right vs. wrong’ revenge judgement, a desire to do what’s best for all with harm to none makes us all better.  A mind of One would raise the planet’s consciousness much like Mandella, Gandhi, Dr. King, the Dali Lama, and many others have done throughout time.  The dualistic mind of the media wants to play this like a football game.  The mind of common sense would play it seeking to find the common elements of those involved.  True compassion is our willingness to meet each others’ suffering from the mind of One.